No matter how large or how small, software Implementations have specific rules. The best Implementation Consultants know when those rules should be bent, broken, or strictly followed. In the implementations I’ve led, I’ve always found the below laws invaluable. The rules fall into three categories: Implementation, Change Management, and Communication.
The one thing about Software Implementations is that they take time. And with time comes one crucial rule: Murphy’s Law.
Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. If you are a software implementer (or planning a software implementation), here are some examples:
- A critical person on the project team will be out for an extended time
- An essential piece of functionality will not work as expected
- You will never find the tech person you need at the moment you need them
- The system will crash for no apparent reason
- Someone will change the requirements even though they were never involved in gathering the original requirements.
- You will miss that one thing that someone important needed
- The deadline that you are rushing towards will be moved or made completely arbitrary
Murphy’s Law will help you handle the unpredictable.
If you think implementations take a long time, you probably haven’t made it to Change Management and Adoption, lovingly known as the long tail of implementation. However, one rule that has consistently proven to be deadly accurate is the Law of Diffusion of innovation.
In short, you’ll have your Core Team and Early Adopters, but until you can get the Early Majority into your solution (and not using other solutions or products), you haven’t reached the tipping point of success. The market share % in the above diagram is another way of considering software Adoption.
However, once you have the Early Majority in the system, move your focus to the Late Majority. While full Adoption will depend on the Laggards — that may take a long time. The key to success with both “Majority” is understanding the blockers preventing them from Adoption. Laggards, although necessary, typically have a healthy amount of skepticism around technological change that may be more difficult to convert.
Regular and clear communication is also a vital component of a successful implementation. However, I firmly believe that people tend to be more creative and willing participants in something new if they are having fun. In my experience, people invest more when they don’t think their head is in a guillotine.
One fundamental rule of thumb when considering communication in this exceedingly polarized, remote working world is Poe’s Law. Poe’s Law advocates that recipients of your communication may not take your information as intended. For example, it’s long been known that sarcasm doesn’t translate over email, but Poe’s Law further states that if you are “joking,” – use a damn sideways smiley emoji to indicate that. In short, be clear and when you are coloring outside the lines – make it crystal clear that you are doing so.